Can’t jump ship fast enough: Your worst IT jobs

You don’t need to read Dilbert or watch Dirty Jobs to know that awful jobs are everywhere. Most likely, you’ve had one (or two) yourself.

Maybe you weren’t wrestling slime eels or wearing boss-mandated headgear that monitored your productivity, but a workplace rife with nepotism, screaming and finger-pointing or stupefying boredom can feel just as dreadful. Whatever your poison, here’s a story for each of you, submitted by IT pros who told me they couldn’t run far or fast enough.

1. “Whenever his brother made a mistake, it was swept under the carpet. Whenever anyone else made a mistake, everyone, including the manager, were emailed.”

The job: A database developer based in Rochester tells us about her worst job, working for a well-known marketing company as a senior database developer. The DBA “yelled at people like they were garbage”–and in front of the whole group.

The insult to injury: The DBA had a brother who worked as the database developer. Whenever his brother made a mistake, it was swiftly swept under the carpet. Whenever anyone else made a mistake, everyone including the manager was lambasted in an email. “I was basically under verbal abuse for two years.”

The upshot: “It was a terrible, terrible company. Right now they have a hard time finding anyone to work for them.”

2. “My first call of the evening came in and he was screaming.”

The job: A techie from the Seattle area was a help desk tech for AOL way before they hit a million users. His first night was his last.

The insult to injury: “My first call of the evening came in and from the second I tried to say anything to this guy–a lawyer from LA using a Mac–he was screaming, SCREAMING in my ear about losing his emails and he was going to sue everyone. I was called everything.”

The upshot: “I put my headset on mute and thought about the whole thing…. Do I need this job? Do I need to take this level of abuse?” Then he took his headset off mute, and calmly told the caller where he could put his Mac, before hanging up on him. Instead of getting fired, he was promoted to manager.

3. “The new computer was actually being purchased for a friend of his.”

The job: Steve Pomerantz, a programmer at the University of California tells us about working as the only IT person for a small wholesaler in the niche hardware/software market, 14 years ago.

The insult to injury: The owner wanted him to purchase a computer with very exact specs. He spent hours searching ads and calling wholesalers to get the best price, but every time was sent back to do more haggling. Eight hours later, he agreed to a package that was all of $15 less–while paying the tech $20 an hour. “The next day, he complained about the lack of progress being made on the main project I was working on. He didn’t really want to listen to what might have been slowing me down (such as a wild goose chase to save $15).”

The upshot: He later found out the the computer was being purchased for a friend of the boss’s. “I quit the following week.”

4. “Maybe I’m crazy, but I like to think I am giving a client their money’s worth, based on my skill set, not my ability to occupy desk space, or to attend meetings!”

The job: Steven Davis, owner of NYC Technical Support Services, says his worst job was a contract in which he had to temporarily relocate.

The insult to injury: When he got there, there was nothing for him to do. “Looking back, I believe I was doing about 2 hours of actual something (work) a week, although getting paid for 45 hours (mandatory desk hours).” Though he’s had that happen before when a new gig is getting ramped up, this continued for four straight months. He couldn’t even surf the Web, because access was completely restricted. There was a weekly Monday morning meeting that took 30 minutes, it’s only purpose to schedule other weekly meetings.

The upshot: He’d already found another gig and was going to give notice the day they told me that “we regret that we are letting you go, but despite the excellent work you have done thus far we will be going in a different direction with the projects you have been working on.”

5. “I knew early on I had made the mistake of my life in accepting a position with them.”

The job: A techie at a Bay area IT security firm said he once worked for a reseller that was riddled with nepotism.

The insult to injury: “Management was literally functionally illiterate. I am surprised that they are still in business.” One of the main managers, the vice president of operations brought in his family members all of the time. “It wasn’t cute. They did not have high school diplomas, couldn’t parse a verb, and were prone to using grammatical crutches to get their respective points across.” Worse, they fielded personal phone calls all day while screaming at each other. Some had as many as 16 children each, which they’d bring to company events–”a bunch of no-neck monsters just running amok.”

The upshot: “I knew in my gut during the face-to-face interview that I should have opted out then and there, it would have kept me from having the worst IT job ever.”



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